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IEP Meetings: How to Sharpen Your Advocacy Skills
and Help Other Parents

by Pat Howey

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"I dread going to IEP meetings. I get a knot in my stomach for days ahead of time. When I provide information and observations about my child at meetings, the team ignores them."

"How can I be a better advocate for my child and not be basket case before these meetings?

The best way to become a good advocate for your child is to do what you would do if you wanted to catch the flu. Expose yourself to as many opportunities to advocate as possible.

Ask other parents if they would like to have a friendly face at their IEP team meeting. Assure them that you don't know enough to go with them as an advocate, but you will be there to support them and reassure them.

When you go to IEP meetings as a friend, you can be more detached and less involved emotionally. You can better observe the personalities and the games that are being played. You can see what some people do to push the parents' "buttons."

You will become more aware of meeting dynamics and what is going on because you do NOT have the same emotional attachment that you do when you go to your own child's IEP meetings.

You will find you can put this knowledge and information to good use when you go to your child's IEP meetings. You will be prepared for the games that are played and you will know and understand the personalities you are dealing with.

Finally, you are likely to find that advocating for other children is much easier than advocating for your child. You will be motivated to become a real advocate.

When you advocate for other children, you will continue to make progress on the advocacy learning curve. When you do attend your child's IEP meetings, you will be less emotional and more detached.

You will be surprised at how many parents would LOVE to have just one friendly face at their IEP meetings. You may discover that you LOVE learning how to advocate for other children.

Then, we all benefit.

Read more articles by Pat Howey in Ask the Advocate

Advocacy Strategies: Filing a Complaint with the State

Understanding the Playing Field: Power Struggles, Meetings, Follow Up Letters

What to Do When the School Ignores Your Requests

Meet Pat Howey

Pat HoweyPat Howey has a B.A. in Paralegal Studies from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College where she graduated with honors. She is an active member of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and other organizations. In 2004, the Learning Disabilities Association of Indiana honored Pat with its Outstanding Service Award for her commitment and compassion towards students with disabilities.

Pat Howey writes articles and answers questions in Ask the Advocate.

As a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, Pat Howey provides training for parents, educators, and others who want to ensure that children receive quality special education services.
Learn more about Pat.

Wrightslaw programs are designed to meet the needs of parents, educators, health care providers, advocates, and attorneys who represent children with disabilities.

"Changing the World -- One Child at at Time."

Contact Information
Pat Howey
Special Education Consulting
POB 117
West Point, Indiana 47992-0117
Website: patriciahowey.com
Email: specialedconsulting@gmail.com

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Created: 10/10/05
Revised: 03/22/12